Feckin' Trekkin'

Matt and Krista's Awesome Travel Blog

Category: Race Reports (page 1 of 2)

A statistical analysis of this year’s Spartan Race results

The Spartan Race season is done. No more road trips to obscure ski resorts, no more scraped knees, no more AROO’ing. So how did we get on? They say “You’ll Know At The Finish Line”, and my gut feel is that it was boatload of fun, I really enjoyed it, and I feel like I was moving way faster than last year. But what do the cells of my mystical Excel sheet say? Really, I have a spreadsheet with my results in it…


I finished in the top 5% at the Sprint distance, top 13% at the Super distance (at a new and not-very-competitive event), and just sneaked into the first half of the field at the Beast in Ottawa.


Almost made it into the top 1% at the Toronto Sprint, made the top 5% at the (crazily competitive) Super in Mont Tremblant, and finished in the top 13% at the Ottawa Beast. So, according to the numbers, I moved up the field in each of the distances which can only be good news.

So am I actually any faster?

Because the course, conditions and competitors change from one season to the next it’s hard to know for sure if you’ve improved or not, but it felt to me this year like the people winning the events were better athletes than the people winning last year (and the finish times back that up), and yet I was finishing in a similar time relative to the winner as I was last year. So I reckon the other guys got quicker, but I kept up with them just as well (or badly) as last year. Typically I finished in about 135-140% of the winner’s time this season and last season (ie if the winner finished in 100 minutes, I took about 135 minutes).

What about Krista?

Any statistical analysis of Krista’s results is pointless. The single goal for her in 2013 was to finish the Beast. Every other event was treated as either practice or conditioning. The result was good. In 2012 she dropped out of the Beast after about 3 hours, knowing she wasn’t strong enough to complete the course. This year she kept going at a consistent pace for 7+ hours, completing the course in good style with a smile on her face. She crossed the line, got the medal, completed the Trifecta. It was a pass or fail test, and she passed. I couldn’t be more proud, and she couldn’t be happier.

Adam and Solo’s Spartan Beast Review

A guy I met at the Spartan Beast race in Ottawa (a very nice guy called Adam Kwitko) produced a video race report for Get Out There Magazine, with a bit of help from Krista’s coach Solo. I even got to help out with the filming duties. Well, I held the camera while they did the bit on the Premium Rig obstacle at the start of the video. Here’s the full video. I think it gives a pretty good flavour of the types of challenges we faced.

Around The Bay 30km Road Race 2013

Hurricane Heat & Spartan Sprint – Calgary AB

After some serious butt kissing via e-mail to Western Canada Spartan organizers we managed to get two spots in the sold out race for the Calgary Sprint.  What is a Spartan Race? Quick summary, its a race with obstacles. Distances vary and obstacles as well. I encourage a check out http://www.spartanrace.com/

We were slotted to run and then Matt noticed the night before they were offering the ever first Hurricane Heat in Canada. Hurricane Heat is a run in the evening or early morning. They take you in groups and you run the course together as a team. You leave no one behind. Bonus – they were offering it for $25.00. Count me in.. Matt said I was slightly mad but encouraging. Registration done, time to suit up.

We ran the Hurricane Heat with Eric from the States. As soon as he said they were brought in from the U.S. I knew we were in trouble. The courses in the States are much harder from what I heard and sure enough it was. It provided some proper ass kicking. Plenty of steep hills, dirt, 4 mud pits, high walls, traverse wall (which is a U.S specialty), cinder blocks to drag, 45lb sandbag to carry down and up a very steep hill .. you get the idea. Eric would stop us at each station, discuss the obstacle.. and then we would throw down into burpees and then proceed. It took 2 hours. I loved it.

Quick shower, pizza and crashing in a Walmart parking lot…  up and at em’ at 7:00am! Matt ran the elite heat at 9am which meant we needed to get there early as possible due to parking. I have to utterly praise Western Canada Spartan organizers.. They got their shit together. Registration, parking (thank you for helping us), setting us up with time slots to run etc… I cannot thank these guys enough.

Matt hit the race at 9am and hit it hard. Nothing is official yet but we believe he crossed the line in 32 minutes. NOT bad! I ran at 10:30.. gave us time to switch up the camera! I enjoyed my second time around but it was slow. Some people were not so happy on the steep hills which caused a backlog.

Muddy and happy with a free beer I have to say it was a great way to spend our morning. Best part is having your own shower in an RV to clean up afterwards.

One thing we learnt.. burpees suck. Which means much practice is needed with our spear throwing.

Reflecting on our progress

Our latest race, the Midsummer Night’s Run, was an interesting one. Krista took about 5 mins out of her PB for the 15km, and I came in a mere 2 mins outside my PB for the 30km. The bit that makes those results impressive is that neither of us took this race especially seriously and we didn’t train very hard for it at all. I did 4 or 5 long-ish runs, most of them around 20km, most of them on a Monday morning before work. Krista did about the same number of runs, varying between 7km and 13km. Neither of us ran more than twice a week, and we did zero speed work. When we set our respective PBs (Krista at last year’s Midsummer Night’s Run, and me at the Around The Bay race in Hamilton 2 years ago), we’d both trained properly, running at least 2 or 3 times a week, for 3 months or more. Our times haven’t progressed hugely, but our base level of fitness is such that we can do them without much specific training. I think that’s pretty awesome. I’d love to run more often and improve my times, but you can’t do everything, and I wouldn’t want to give up cycling and climbing (OK, and hanging out in the pub) in order to commit the extra time to running.

Warrior Dash

Mud, sweat and beers, that’s what the Warrior Dash is all about. Mud, cos it’s an obstacle race where half the obstacles involve running, crawling or slithering through mud. Sweat, because the course is 5km and only about 100 meters of it is flat (the rest is all hills) and it’s the middle of summer. Beers, because your entry fee includes a post-race lager-flavored beverage.

We were lucky enough to have Matt and Monica join us for this one, so it turned into quite a social outing. The general consensus was that the obstacles weren’t much of an obstacle, but the hills were pretty gruelling. Matt did splendidly in his first ever race (of any sort, ever) and clearly excels at anything that involves being on all-fours. Monica upstaged us all by running the 5km course with 20lbs of metal in her backpack, as she’s a.) crazy and b.) training for the Spartan Beast race in Vermont in a few weeks. For me, it was a lot of fun, but not nearly miserable enough. I’d definitely like to run some longer, tougher obstacle races in the future but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to fit them in this year.

You can read Monica’s write-up on her blog.

P.S. A picture tells a thousand words, so here’s 9,000 words-worth.

Goodlife Half Marathon

With more than 10,000 people from 40 different countries attending, you would have thought the weathermen could have ordered something other than rain. But no. Still, never mind, it didn’t slow any of us down.

Despite having been pretty sick just a couple of weeks before the race, I finished in a respectable 1 hr 53 (just a couple of minutes outside my PB). Krista came home in 2 hrs 31, WAY inside her previous best. Our buddy Jeff Slemin did himself proud in his first half marathon, 2 hrs 24.

My ultimate challenge, running a half marathon.

If you saw me run earlier this year you would think someone was beating the shit out of me. I could barely run 5km and I sounded like some dying animal every time I took a breath.

*Fast forward a few months and a 15km race under my belt*

I will admit. My training for it was not the best. A couple of mid runs, a few short runs and only one long run a week or so before my race. The long run was 18.5 km and I felt pretty good so I figured I could dig deep and throw in the last few kms.

Running your first half marathon is a big deal. Matt is my number one encouraging coach and a chance had come up for him to climb some mountains and it fell upon my run. As much as I wanted him there I thought about it and told him to go for it. We both can do something amazing and celebrate upon his return.

I had my parents, my twin sissy and her husband, Brad there for support. It was an emotional few days to begin with as Matt had left early Saturday morning for his Mexico expedition. I headed up to Markham and started to mentally prepare myself. I was up dressed and forcing a bit of food in my tummy Sunday morning. I was anxious, nervous and pumped. I had some amazing words of encouragement from Matt on my blackberry and my sister was just a pillar of whatever I said went. Brad stretched me out and got me ready.  I actually choked up a few times before the start wishing Matt was there. He was there really. I had certain things he would say would just pop up in my head while I was running along. Kept me going.

The weird thing is, is that the run itself was a complete blur at one point. I don’t remember much from the 12-15km mark. I do remember my friend Ceri, popping up and running with me at 11km and then again at 15km which was just a great boost for me.

18km mark I did well.. but fatigue started to set in. I had to dig really deep and keep pushing myself. My legs could keep going it was my mind that was tired. I got a message from my sister at the 19km mark which choked me up. She said “Look at you! Seriously, look at you! Fucking brilliant! You’re my hero! You can do this – You are blowing everyone away!!!” I just kicked up my pace and went for it and I didn’t stop. I past by Brad whom I didn’t even recognize I was that focused. Saw my dad as I was entering the last 0.5km and gave him the thumbs up. I heard my name being called over the PA there egging me on and one last push and I crossed the finish line.

I did it? I f*cking did it!!! I didn’t even see the woman trying to put the medal around my neck. Medal on my chest and I immediately went to my sister and started crying. I was overcome. Amazed at my accomplishment, amazed at the support from my family, and wishing Matt was there. I could imagine him running the last couple of km’s with me egging me on, pushing me and I just kept crying. a half marathon under my belt before I
turned 30.. and I did it!

The race event had offered breakfast for the runners. YUM. I walked in, smelled eggs and nearly barfed. There goes breakfast. The bananas I took did me just fine. Brad stretched me again after the run. Bath, food, bubbly, and I was relaxing still in shock over what I had just done.

I messaged Matt over blackberry letting him know I finished and my time! if I concentrated really hard I think i could have heard his “WOOOOOOOO” all the way from Mexico City. I don’t think I can even explain the excitement and words that were exchanged between the two of us. What I do know is that we both will have massive smiles on our faces when we next see each other.

What did I learn from this? That basically I have the ability to do whatever I want to do. That sometimes I am stubborn enough to push through mental barriers and push myself to the limit. As well, that I have NO desire to do a full marathon 🙂 21km for now is enough. I now know that I can do this. I will do it again.

For now I will ice my hamstrings and relish in what was one hell of a race and a well deserved medal.



CN Tower Climb 2010

Last year I missed the CN Tower Climb as a result of missing my flight back from the UK the night before the event. This year I made no mistakes. To make things challenging, I set myself a target time of 17 mins and a fundraising goal of $250, and I beat both of them. I knocked over 90 seconds off my target time and beat my fundraising goal by $50 as well. My time of 15 mins 26 secs, despite being a looong way off the record of 7 mins 52, was the 348th best time out of over 9,900 entrants.

Not bad for a morning’s work! 🙂

Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon, and came home with a new personal best time of 1 hour 51 mins 14 seconds. Which was nice. The last time I ran a competitive Half, in September 2006, I just about managed to haul my carcass home in 2 hours 13 so today was a massive, and long overdue, leap forward despite not really training properly for this race.

Obviously I’m pleased with my time today, and it’s indicative of a significant improvement in my physical fitness over the past 4 years. But the thing that I’m more pleased about, and find more interesting, is how much better I understand my capabilities now. The last couple of days I’ve eaten what I know my body needs and got the amount of rest I know I require in order to be on top form. This morning I got up early so I could eat 2 hours before the race because I know that’s what works for me. I knew exactly what pace I would be able to sustain, and was 95% certain of hitting my target time before the race even started. Out on the course, I was able to anticipate how both my mind and my body would react at various stages in the race. I drank before I was thirsty. When I got caught in traffic at the start and fell behind my target times, I could rationally tweak my splits to steadily make it up by the halfway point. Later in the race, I controlled the excessive enthusiasm I always get 2/3 of the way through, allowing my pace to increase just a little, but not going so fast that I crash 3km from the end. I knew in advance that the last kilometer would hurt, so it didn’t surprise me when the legs went shaky and my chest started to tighten. As I crossed the finish line I slowed to a gentle jog, then to a brisk walk, because I know I’ll go light-headed and fall over in a pathetic heap if I just stop right away. I’ve run enough now that I know what I’m doing. I’m not a FAST runner yet, but I’m definitely “a runner”.

I’m looking forward to the day when I can say the same thing about my rock climbing and mountaineering abilities. 🙂

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